In the hours and days that followed the April 15, 2013, bombing at the Boston Marathon, the Boston Herald‘s Dave Wedge reported on developments in the city, in the paper and on Twitter, as they unfolded—and that reporting is becoming a book. The book, Boston Strong, co-written with author Casey Sherman, won’t hit stores until next year. But the Boston Strong movie is already in the works: Deadline broke the news that Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy, writers of 2010’s The Fighter, have optioned the movie rights to the book. (Johnson and Tamasy also wrote the screenplay for a forthcoming movie based on Sherman’s 2009 book about a 1952 Coast Guard rescue.)
While the movie would likely take years to land in theaters—Johnson and Tamasy will have at least a year to produce a script—response to the announcement, coming mere months after the tragedy, has been predictably mixed. “Too soon” has been a not-uncommon reaction, and even the comments on the film industry-oriented site Deadline suggest that the move is not only “tasteless” but also a risky proposition, as the possible perception that a movie is capitalizing on real-life disaster might impact feelings about the film even years down the line. (Not to mention the question of why they would option a book rather than just making a movie based on their own research using news reports, which are all out there for the reading.)
But “too soon?” isn’t exactly the right question to ask about Boston Strong.
Boston magazine has dubbed the movie “inevitable” and there are plenty of other examples of movies coming along while a serious news event is still fresh in viewers’ minds. The Impossible came out eight years after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami claimed nearly a quarter million lives. United 93 came out five years after 9/11; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close ten years later. It’s not unreasonable to think that it could take five years for the Boston Strong movie to end up in theaters (if the option even generates a script, much less a movie). A more worthwhile question, and one that Boston Strong can’t answer at this stage, is not whether the story is being told at the right time but, rather, whether it’s being told in the right way.